Thank God Thou Mayest returned to bring us this Elderberry Ginger Espresso Tonic

Bo Nelson has a lot of energy. The man behind Thou Mayest, the popular East Crossroads coffee shop that closed in December, talks quickly and fervently about his plans to rebuild the brand. The conversation hopscotches through loops and metaphors — it’s almost like he’s had too much caffeine.

When Thou Mayest closed at 419 E. 18th St., Nelson took just a month off before opening Café Equinox in February at Family Tree Nursery, a greenhouse in Shawnee. Café Equinox was meant to be a holdover until Nelson could figure out his next move — until he recognized Thou Mayest regulars who made the trek to line up for half-hour waits at his new shop.

“I realized we had something really special,” he says. “I mean, people came out during a blizzard to stand in line. I was just standing there, hugging people between making drinks. It was super emotional, and it made me realize that that brand [Thou Mayest] really wanted to live.”

Indeed, Thou Mayest does have a cult following: During the shop’s last week in business, one guy tumbled into Nelson’s office and thanked him tearfully for “providing a space to save this guy’s marriage.” The battered green leather couch that sat in one corner was purchased by another regular, who presented it to his girlfriend as a gift — it was the couch where he proposed.

“That’s why I get up in the morning; coffee is amazing, but it doesn’t do this,” Nelson says, gesturing to his wet eyes. “This brand is really special in that it’s been a part of a lot of peoples’ life journeys.”

In April, Thou Mayest acquired Quay Coffee, which includes a shop in the River Market and at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. (For now, Nelson is handling operations at Quay Coffee locations only and is still deciding if rebranding Quay with the Thou Mayest brand is necessary). In July, Nelson opened Thee Outpost at Collective Ex (549 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo.) in the East Crossroads — just a block down from his original location.

Thee Outpost is small and cozy, situated at the front of the shared maker and artist studio spaces that make up Collective Ex. It has, Nelson says, Thou Mayest’s “greatest hits.” Seasonal coffee beverages, pour over coffee and on-tap tea drinks all find a home here, along with pastries from Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Heirloom Bakery & Hearth. There’s even a coffee lab (Thee Lab) in the back, where Nelson and his team of baristas can play with new coffee concoctions. This is where Thee Outpost’s Elderberry Ginger Espresso Tonic was born — a zippy, layered iced drink garnished with crystallized ginger that will brighten both your palate and your day.

GO: Thee Outpost, 549 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo. Open 7 am-8 pm Monday-Saturday and 9 am-5 pm Sunday.

Elderberry Ginger Espresso Tonic Recipe:

  1/3 ounce elderberry syrup (or your favorite fruit syrup)

  5 ounces tonic water

  1 shot espresso or 1 ounce cold brew

  Crystallized ginger, for garnish

*Fill a 10-ounce glass with ice. Pour in syrup, then tonic water, then espresso or cold brew. Garnish with crystalized ginger. Enjoy without a straw to allow the flavors to mix naturally.

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